The Tables are Turned…by God (Esther 9)

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In the blink of an eye, the tide changed in the Kingdom of Persia.  No longer was the second in command a man who hated the Jews.  Now the second in command actually was a Jew.  God’s plans will not be thwarted no matter who is on the throne or second in command.  God unfolded the events in the life of Esther, King Ahasuerus, Mordecai, Haman, and the Jews exactly how He planned it:  the Jews would not be destroyed.  Haman could have treated the Jews with respect and been humble not wanting anyone to bow before him, but that is not the path he chose.  Life brings about many choices each day and it is our decision which choice we are going to make…how we spend our time, talents, and treasure.  Out of pride and selfishness Haman made a choice that was destructive.  Mordecai and Esther made a choice based on humility and love.

Esther 9 reveals how these choices played out with the Hand of God guiding the steps of His people.  “Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred:  the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.” (Esther 9:1).  Instead of the Persians gaining victory over the Jews, the Jews gained mastery over the Persians.  “The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm, and no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples.” (Esther 9:2).  Just a few days before, Haman was leading the way in hatred with preparations to destroy the Jews, now the Persians were fearful.  How can this rapid change of attitude and direction be attributed to anyone besides God?  Only God could orchestrate a plan so masterful that hatred with intent to kill could turn into fear and respect.

Mordecai became great in the King’s house.  He became more powerful, and as his fame grew throughout all the provinces, fear of Mordecai fell on all the officials.  This radical change of events did not happen because Mordecai was authoritative and demanding with the assumption that he was owed this as Haman’s attitude had been.  Rather Mordecai’s attitude of humility along with his wisdom brought about this dramatic change in his position.  When God is on our side, and we exhibit an attitude of submission to the will of God, He can use us for great things.

It would be nice to read this chapter and see that this respect for Mordecai, a Jew, resulted in peace and harmony between all the Jews and their fellow countrymen in Persia.  Even though Mordecai had been promoted to second in command and “fear for Mordecai had fallen on all the officials, satraps, governors, and royal agents,” (Esther 9:3), sadly, peace and harmony was not how the story progressed.  Instead death was on the path to the peaceful ending.  The Jews protected themselves from those who hated them and brought death to many.

Esther 9 records that 500 men in Susa, along with the ten sons of Haman were killed during this one day of fighting.  By royal edict, the Jews could now protect themselves from those who came to destroy them.  With God on their side, no Jews died but the citizens of Persia met with their demise.  After the day was over, the King came to the Queen and asked her if there was anything else she wanted.  Not too long ago, the Queen was fasting and praying for three days before entering the presence of the King unsure of how she would be received.  Again, the tables are turned and now the King is seeking an audience with the Queen.  The Hand of God is seen again and again throughout the story of Esther.  “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14).

Questions:

  1. What phrase is repeated three times in Esther 9? (Esther 9:10, 15, & 16).
  1. Read Exodus 17:8-16 then read I Samuel 15. (Haman was an Amalekite).  How do these stories relate to Esther?
  1. In Esther 9:,10, 15, & 16, the people took no plunder. In I Samuel 15:9, 15 what did the people do?
  1. How has the attitude of the Jews changed over the course of time?
  1. What did Samuel say to Saul in I Samuel 15:22, 23?
  1. Did the Jews seem to learn their lesson from these events in I Samuel 15?
  1. How many men were killed as the Jews defended themselves? (Esther 9:6-10, 15, 16). What is coupled each time with the number of men that are killed?
  1. As a result, Purim, which is a party, a celebration and holiday was established. It is still celebrated to this day.  The name of the holiday received its origin from the word “Pur” which means to cast lots, which is how the day that the Jews were to be “destroyed, killed, and annihilated” (Esther 3:13) was established by Haman.  Again, the tables are turned and what could have been a wretched and horrible day that would have gone down in infamy in the history of the Jews turned into a day of celebration.  The ending “im” in Purim makes it plural.  The intent was the celebration was to continue and the people were to celebrate each year the protection of God on their lives.  What is involved in this holiday? (Esther 9:20-22)
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